Login | Signup

Bethesda: Skyrim Hasn't Been Dumbed Down, It's Been Improved

Felix Kemp
Bethesda Softworks, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Elder Scrolls V Skyrim | PC | Playstation 3 | Xbox 360

Bethesda: Skyrim Hasn't Been Dumbed Down, It's Been Improved

Since unveiling Skyrim to the public, Bethesda have continually stated their ambition to improve the Elder Scrolls formula with the fifth entry in the sprawling series. We loved Oblivion, but it was a dense, often frustrating experience. It was a volatile mix of choices and variables, dynamic features sitting awkwardly with dated design. Skyrim has removed many of this extraneous baggage, and Bethesda is keen to convince fans it's not a case of making the game more accessible; it's simply to improve and streamline the experience.

"In our games or others' games, they give you a character menu and say, 'Who do you want to be, what powers do you want?" Bethesda's Todd Howard tells Gamasutra. "[Players think,] 'I don't know, I haven't played yet!" Each Elder Scrolls has you pick your character's race, gender, specialties and so on, often restricting you to a specific path with no idea where it leaves. The levelling system in Skyrim has been completely overhauled, allowing a more organic style of progression which the player can sculpt with far greater control.

"What happens in Oblivion is you start the game, play for three hours, and then think "I want to start over, I chose wrong." explains Howard. "So we'd like to sort of alleviate some of that. I also think the controls work better [too] ... it's more elegant". He mentions Call of Duty, the world's most popular online shooter whose multiplayer contains a pretty deep and complex levelling system not too dissimilar to an RPG.

Howard went into details the other elements the team is looking to build upon with Skyrim. He cited NPCs as a key feature in the series which Bethesda have often struggled to perfect. "But I think the big things for us are still -- and we still struggle with -- are the NPCs, the interaction, and how they act," he reveals. "That's because the game is so dynamic, we don't want to script them, so weirdness can ensue sometimes. So we came out of Oblivion thinking, hey, how do we get more believable characters on the screen who are reacting to you."

Traversing the landscape in Skyrim is set to be a more believable affair than past Bethesda titles. Whereas in the likes of Oblivion and Fallout 3 you could essentially travel in one direction, regardless of the undulating topography and laws of physics, in Skyrim scaling a mountain will require you to climb its steep sides where you can find purchase, rather than simply bunny-hop up vertical cliff-faces.

Howard also spoke about Skyrim's general tone in comparison to past Elder Scrolls games. The titular province of Skyrim is a far more rugged landscape than Cyroddil, which had a high-fantasy feel in comparison to Skyrim's more realistic, Scottish Highlands-aesthetic. Howard explains Skyrim is a far more violent, bloodthirsty place. But it's not simply about gore and bloodletting, he assures us.

We're hoping to get more hands-on with Skyrim at Gamescom in August, and you can be sure we'll bring you up-to-the-minute news on Bethesda's jaw-dropping RPG. [Gamasutra]

Add a comment3 comments
Knuckles  Jul. 29, 2011 at 01:34

Please don't remove my "volatile mixture of choices and variables", I like my choices and variables right where they are thankyou very much. It's not "extraneous baggage" just because I get to choose some things about my character, nor is it going to "improve" anything by giving me less options and less attributes and less armor slots. "Streamlining" is the wrong word, you mean stupidizing.

So now the "Deep and complex levelling system" is gonna be like Call of Duty. Fantastic. Thats just what I look for in my FRPG is a fricken levelling system like a FPS. I also like deep interactive conversations with people on the dementia ward.

At no stage of Oblivion was I confused, at no stage did I sit there and think "oh this is all to much". I did play the game through several times using different types of characters and different races, thanks for killing that piece of enjoyment, who needs replayability anyway. Not you, you already have my cash Bethesda, so why worry.

So let me be clear here: I WANT to have choices, I WANT to have lots of armor slots, and I WANT to have plenty of attributes that make a difference,.. and so do the millions of other people that bought your previous games and loved them. The same people that said "This is the best RPG ever made", "Breathtaking", "Everything I wished for and more", "Literally a wonderful gaming experience", "An absolute masterpiece", "Incredible". Don't wizz in my pocket and tell me it's raining, and don't tell me this isn't dumbed down.

zaknafein196  Nov. 10, 2011 at 11:02

Yeah I totally second that statement. Bethesda is doing it wrong. Making the game dumb, less replayable, killing the immersion :(

lokivoid  Nov. 22, 2011 at 07:21

dumbed down and consoleized to appeal to a larger audiance. In the process it also made the production cost cheaper as there was less scripting involed. To them it was two birds with one stone Lower investment cost and incressed potential sells. Consoles have been pretty much the primary cause for the overall dumbed down gameplay that has been pumped out for the past six years.


Leave a Trackback from your own site

Email Address:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.